The vehicles were lined up at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, driven by members of the community who might have lost their jobs or taken a pay cut during the COVID-19 pandemic. They were there to receive a box of free food to take home to their families to help supplement their needs.
The food distribution was staged at Distribution 429, a new industrial park on Ocoee Business Parkway developed by McCraney Property Company and Marcobay Construction.
Steven McCraney and Jimmy Vessels from the two Orlando-based real estate firms partnered with the nonprofit Farm Share and the city of Ocoee to make the event a reality. Farm Share works daily to ensure food-insecure people receive food and support.
“As the COVID-19 numbers persist … many families are out of jobs and income to support their families with food,” Vessels and McCraney said.
This one-day event was scheduled to make things a little easier for residents — even if temporarily.
McCraney Property Company owns the industrial park and has spent the last year constructing three building with general contractor Marcobay.
“They’ve been part of the community,” said Deidre Kraus, of The PR Company. “They had to do community meetings to get permits and approvals. Wherever they have a footprint, they like to give back to the community.”
McCraney and Vessels decided after the building was finished being developed that “this would be a great location for the next food drive.”
Marcobay paid for the food, which was delivered by Farm Share.
Volunteers from the hosting companies and the community arrived at 7 a.m. to separate the food from the pallets and arrange it in tents. Two lines were set up for vehicles, and boxes were placed in the car trunks and truck beds, creating a no-contact drive-thru distribution system.
It has taken a community to bring everything and everyone together for the project, which was advertised through churches, community activists, shelters and the Ocoee Police Department.
“It’s been really nice — some of the tenants at the park, Distribution 429, they are offering tents and tables for free that they have,” Krause said last week. “There will be two forklifts that one of the tenants is providing to get the food out of the trucks.”
When McCraney sent a newsletter to all of its contacts, one vendor from south Florida, Natures Landscape, made a donation to support the cause.
Extra boxes were donated to West Orange Christian Service Center, located in Ocoee, and Hope CommUnity Center, in Apopka.
This is the third food drive McCraney has held in Florida. Another is planned for this weekend.